Donald Trump is flirting with jail time if he violates a gag order that was put in place on Monday. A law professor warned about the possible consequences the former president is facing if he doesn’t abide by the terms of the gag order Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed surrounding Trump’s federal case for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election.
Hours after the gag order was instituted, Paul Butler, the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University Law Center, explained on MSNBC that jail is among the points of recourse Chutkan has at her disposal.
Chutkan’s gag order came after Trump made a series of disparaging remarks that critics said were intended to intimidate prosecutors, witnesses and others who may be called to testify.
“First Amendment protections yield to the administration of justice and to the protection of witnesses,” Chutkan said in court while issuing the gag order. “His presidential candidacy does not give him carte blanche to vilify … public servants who are simply doing their job.”
Trump, of course, is known in part for his inability to bite his tongue on nearly any topic – particularly his legal woes that not only include being indicted on four felony counts for the case before Chutkan but also three other criminal indictments as he runs for president.
But if Trump cannot obey the terms of Chutkan’s gag order, he will likely find himself in an increasing amount of trouble, including possibly jail time, Butler said.
“The judge didn’t say today what she will do if Trump violates, but she did talk to the lawyers about the different remedies available to her, Butler, an MNBC legal analyst, told Joy Reid.
“So she could call Trump into her court and verbally admonish him,” Butler said as one of Chutkan’s options for dealing with the prospects of the gag order being violated.
Or, Butler continued, Chutkan could fine Trump, “making him pay lots of money for every violation.”
Chutkan could effectively place Trump on home arrest, too, Butler said.
“Judge Chutkan can also sentence him to home detention, meaning that he couldn’t leave one of his residences before and during the trial,” Butler continued.
Chutkan could also take more aggressive measures and put Trump behind bars for violating the gag order.
“Ultimately the judge could lock Trump up,” Butler added, noting that Trump has likely avoided that possibility because of his status. Butler said that “probably would have already happened to any defendant who wasn’t named Donald Trump, who went around talking about executing witnesses.”
.@LawProfButler on what Judge Chutkan could do if Trump violates gag order: “Ultimately the judge could lock Trump up, which probably would have already happened to any defendant who wasn’t named Donald Trump, who went around talking about executing witnesses.” #TheReidOut pic.twitter.com/sSWEOzvT74
— The ReidOut (@thereidout) October 17, 2023
In addition to the gag order, Chutkan ruled that the trial for that case would not be rescheduled and remains set to begin in March – just as primary elections are being held.
Trump has made no secret of his anger about being criminally indicted four times in as many months this year. He’s verbally attacked the prosecutors and judges in his cases. That includes Chutkan, a Black woman who was the target of at least one series of racist death threats before suspected white supremacist Abigail Jo Shry was arrested in August and charged with threatening to kill the federal judge.
Notably, Chutkan oversaw the sentencing of one of the defendants charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, rioting at the U.S. Capitol. In that instance, Trump called Chutkan “highly partisan” and “VERY BIASED & UNFAIR!”
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